MHUSD requests emergency funding

More than 300 students absent on day of false threat

Local school district officials were given board permission to try to recover $16,000 in lost Average Daily Attendance funds from the State Dept. of Education due to special circumstances.

“Morgan Hill Unified School District experienced a significant decrease in attendance on October 22, 2018 due to a threat of violence being circulated by social media listing ‘BMS’ as the targeted location,” reads the staff report. “Staff requests the substitution of estimated days of attendance for actual days of attendance. …”

“BMS” are the initials of Britton Middle School. However, a Morgan Hill Police Department investigation deemed the Snapchat post was created in another state and there was “no credible threat” to the West Central Avenue middle school. The post that was feared to take aim at Britton stated: “Attention Everybody that goes to BMS I will be shooting up the school on Monday afternoon.”

Despite the conclusion, hundreds of parents chose to keep their students home from school that day. As a result, the district lost about $16,000 in ADA funds.

On Oct. 22, attendance at Britton Middle School dropped by 318 students from a monthly average of 747 to an actual of 429 due to the threat, according to the district’s “Request for Allowance of Attendance due to Emergency Conditions” filing with the CDE. No other district school had a significant decline in attendance that day.

According to state education code, a district may request ADA credits “whenever the average daily attendance of any school district, county office of education, regional occupational center or program has been decreased because of fire, flood, impassable roads or when one or more schools were kept open but experienced a material decrease in attendance because of special circumstances.”

The district loses $60 per day per student when an absence from school is recorded for any reason. The average daily attendance value per student for the year is $7,683 for sixth through eighth grade school sites. That amount varies by elementary, middle and high schools.

Included in the district’s application to the state was a Nov. 19 letter of support from MHPD Chief David Swing addressed to County Supt. of Schools Mary Ann Dewan.

“Considering the threat of violence made via social media and the sharing of that information, a perception of an imminent threat was formed. In reality, however, the pre-planning done by the district and local law enforcement greatly mitigated the potential for violence,” Swing wrote. “The subsequent funding would be beneficial to the Morgan Hill Unified School District to help offset the financial obligations that were created by the potential threat to students and staff at Britton Middle School on Oct. 22, 2018.”

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